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Head Start Cheers House Committee Passage of Robust Funding Bill

May 8, 2019

House Bill Supports Head Start’s Role in Aiding Children Experiencing Trauma


WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded forward progress on legislation to increase Head Start funding in fiscal year 2020 (FY20) by more than $1.5 billion, including $750 million dedicated to supporting children and families experiencing trauma—a top priority for NHSA and the Head Start community. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee passed the bill, bringing Head Start programs nationwide one step closer to a major funding increase when the new fiscal year begins October 1. 

“While Congress is still in the early stages of reaching an agreement on Head Start’s funding for the coming year, this bill and the strong support it received in committee are both giant leaps in the right direction,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “NHSA is especially grateful to Congress for listening to our community’s request for new funding dedicated to increasing Head Start’s capacity to support trauma-exposed children and their families. Head Start partners with families to provide more than one million at-risk children with education, health, and nutrition services each year, and we thank our congressional champions for their unwavering commitment to opening windows of opportunity in their lives.”

The bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee today recommends more than $11.5 billion in funding for Head Start in FY20, including for the following priorities:

  • $750 million for Quality Improvement Funding for Trauma-Informed Care, including increasing services from mental health professionals to provide expert care and counseling to families and the Head Start workforce; providing staff training on trauma-informed approaches to service delivery; and adding staff to Head Start classrooms.
  • An increase of $525 million ($1.33 billion total) for the expansion of Early Head Start and Child Care Partnerships, adding over 80,000 slots for eligible children. 
  • $8 million for the re-establishing the Tribal Colleges and Universities Head Start Partnership Program to increase the pool of Native American educators who meet the national standards for qualified Head Start teachers.
  • $217 million for a cost-of-living adjustment—an increase of over 2%—to support and retain a qualified Head Start workforce.

In the months leading up to today’s vote, more than 200 members of Congress—both Republicans and Democrats—reaffirmed their commitment to America’s most vulnerable children and families by signing letters of support requesting that congressional appropriators provide robust funding in fiscal year 2020 for Head Start.

In addition to requesting funding to improve services for children and families and invest in retaining a qualified workforce, those letters called for new monies to be dedicated for Head Start to provide trauma-informed care and other supports to vulnerable children impacted by addiction in their communities and other adverse experiences.

“The opioid epidemic has resulted in instability for many families across the nation and Head Start plays a unique role in addressing the crisis,” wrote lawmakers in one letter. “With targeted funding, Head Start will reduce the societal costs of any traumatic experience by helping trauma-exposed children ‘catch-up’ to their peers while simultaneously supporting families.”

In another letter, members of Congress said, “At the center of Head Start’s effective model is its ability to provide much-needed stability for children and their families impacted by trauma, addiction, community violence or any number of adverse childhood experiences….We must continue to support them.”

Learn more about NHSA’s recommendations for how Congress could activate the full potential of Head Start in responding to the opioid crisis and supporting children exposed to trauma. 

Head Start offers education, health, and nutrition services to economically disadvantaged children, as well as parenting and employment supports to their parents. Numerous recent reports and studies clearly indicate that Head Start is an effective tool for empowering families to break the cycle of poverty. By involving the whole family in a child’s education and development through an emphasis on parent engagement, Head Start strengthens families and local communities.